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Syrian President Bashar Assad recently visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, resulting in the signing of a military cooperation agreement that would pave the way for the sale of Russian weapons to Syria. In addition, the countries agreed to resolve the $13 billion Syrian debt to the former Soviet Union. “The two countries agree to pursue traditional cooperation in the military-technical sphere in keeping with their mutual interests and international obligations,” the Russian Itar-Tass news agency reported. The debt dispute that had been holding up cooperation has now been eliminated: “We have resolved the debt issue on mutually acceptable terms, which gives us the basis for long-term cooperation in the future,” Mr. Putin said.
It is understood that Syria had earlier signed a $20 million deal to acquire the Russian SA-18 surface-to-air, short-range air defense systems, but the deal was suspended amid pressure from both the U.S. and Israel. “These are defensive weapons, air defense, to prevent aircraft from entering our airspace,” Mr. Assad said. “If Israel is against us acquiring them, it's as if it was saying 'We want to attack Syria but we don't want them to protect themselves.'” In addition to the SA-18, Syria has also expressed interest in the Iskander-E long-range rocket, anti-tank missiles and the TOR-M1 anti-aircraft defense system.
Source: The World Tribune